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10/02/08 8:44 PM ET

Lou Piniella pregame interview

Manager knows that pitching is key to shutting down hitters

Since last year's playoffs in the first game, it seems that Soriano, Lee, Ramirez, your big right-handed power hitters, have they been pitched to exceedingly tough? What's been the real challenge they've come up against when they've had all their problems there?

LOU PINIELLA: I don't really have an answer for that. Look, in postseason you're going to face good pitching. Every team that goes to postseason, pitchers, they know how to pitch. Usually they throw strikes, and they can make pitches when they have to.

I would think that's probably -- has more to do with it than anything else. I don't see anything else that I can point to.

What has DeRosa meant to your club this year?

LOU PINIELLA: Well, he's been a jack of all trades for us. He's played all over and played well, plus 20 home runs and 87 RBIs is about production. We've hit him basically fifth through actually eighth in the lineup, very occasionally second. But to rest a player in the infield, rest an outfielder, to get the combination of players we want in the lineup, he's done all that and more.

DeRosa just said a minute ago that he thought tonight's game was more or less do or die.

LOU PINIELLA: Oh, I don't look at that. I really don't. I think that it would be a huge advantage for the Dodgers, but do or die? If we lose tonight, well, might as well just stay home and go home and forfeit the game in Los Angeles. I don't see us doing that.

You've got to win three ballgames in these things. Obviously you go down 2-0 the advantage really swings, but not do or die. No, that I don't buy.

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A lot of people tag postseason players as big time players or kind of disappearing. One of the raps that Soriano does have is postseason, especially since he's been with the Cubs. Is that an accurate observation?

LOU PINIELLA: I think it's unfair. I mean, look, you can always point the finger wherever you want, but it's a team game. And just because one guy struggles or two guys struggle, other people can pick it up. Obviously you look for your big people to do special things, but I've always been of the school of thought that baseball is an individual game, but boy, I'll tell you what, it's team.

Just because one guy struggles doesn't mean that the team should struggle. Somebody else picks him up.

You know, the lead off hitter sets the tone in a way for an offense, and when Soriano hits the ball well and has good offensive games, our club responds. But to say that if he doesn't do it that we shouldn't score runs, that's not true.

How hard is it to keep Mike Fontenot out of the lineup as well as he's swung the bat lately?

LOU PINIELLA: That's a good question. He has swung the bat well lately. You know, we need a bat coming off the bench, too. He's been our best bat coming off the bench. At the same time, with as cool a weather we've been a little hesitant with DeRosa putting him in the outfield and running bigger distances. But it's a good, legitimate question. I can inject him in the lineup just as easily as not, believe me.

What do you think of these 8:30 starts? It seems like everyone is ready to go at 7 here and you've got to wait an extra hour and a half. Does that have any effect?

LOU PINIELLA: You know, I don't know. Look, if anything, we should have played at 8:30 last night and 5:30 today. It made more sense going out to the west coast. But we had to consult a sleep doctor.

What did he say?

LOU PINIELLA: He said that we should stay overnight tonight instead of travel after the ballgame and leave tomorrow so that everybody can get their full balance of sleep as opposed to sleeping all day tomorrow and not being able to sleep the night after. We'll see if he's right or not after the third game in Los Angeles (laughter).

Was the pizza good?

LOU PINIELLA: The pizza is really good, yeah. I'd like to come in second and taste it tonight, though.

Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.